Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Discoggs 10 - The one where I geek out on my gigs of 2014

The year in numbers...

Let me properly geek out. Just this once.

In 2014 I saw 197 sets by 150 bands. I saw 16 bands twice, three bands three times each.I obviously enjoyed East India Youth, Future Islands and Ages and Ages A LOT because I saw them each five times. I saw The National play seven times in six cities across three countries. (They were all incredible, obviously). I've been privileged to see Dry the River play eight times in support of their fantastic second album.

I can't put my top ten in order of preference. Every experience is more than a sum of its parts, but here are ten of the best, in chronological order:

Ages and Ages - Cheer Up Charlies, Austin.
The room was so packed I had to seek refuge on a table by the door. I'm pretty sure the band could've led a pied-piper style parade through the city and we'd all have followed, such was the love for their incredible harmonies.

Future Islands - Stubbs Backyard, Austin.
I'd seen them at Hoxton in February and fallen in love, so the chance to see them several times in a week at SXSW was fantastic. They clearly enjoyed the attention (people were clamouring to get into every show that week) but they did it in such a humble, giving way.

Sharon Van Etten - Koko, Camden.
Are We There is my record of the year, no doubt. On stage Sharon is charming and funny and vulnerable and strong all at the same time. This piece from Pitchfork will make you fall in love with her.

Fat White Family - Dalston Victoria.
I'm still trying to wash the sweat off. Gloriously unhinged.

Jungle - Oval Space, Hackney.
I still didn't know what they looked like when I first went to see them. Then they appeared out of a fog of dry ice and the glow of three foot tall neon letters. As amazing as I'd hoped.

The National - Lucca, Italy.
We'd seen them the night before, in a tiny nook in the town of Vasto. Then we'd taken a series of trains for 8 hours to catch them again on the other side of the country. A downpour started as they hit the stage but it only heightened the mood. Bryce played like it was the last time he'd ever pick up a guitar and Matt laughed as we had a sing-off during Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. We went home and didn't sleep for hours.

Beck - Camden Roundhouse.
I've never seen so many people grinning in one place. Beck Hansen is a true performer; A sexx-god of petite proportions and an Oscar-worthy actor.

Jenny Lewis - Islington Assembly Hall.
The poster girl for us indie-types of a certain age perhaps. Dressed in a painted pastel suit and singing breezy guitar pop from on top of a speaker – but with lyrics that divulge the grittier bits that lie beneath.

Hives – Reading Festival.
Swoon, giggle, repeat. Consummate showmen.

Bahamas – Borderline, Charing Cross.
Afie Jurvanen has stolen my heart. ‘Bahamas is Afie’ hasn’t been off my stereo since October so I stood absolutely transfixed as he played the Borderline last month. He makes me want to run away and live in a cabin somewhere in Ontario.

Mclusky – Buffalo Bar, Islington.
It was a charged atmosphere from the off. I knew it would be my last visit to the Buffalo Bar before it shuts its doors for the last time so I was ready to soak up those final memories of nights on the stage, behind the decks, in the crowd watching more bands than I could ever remember. It was one of my homes from home when I first moved to London and this was my last hurrah. The fact it was (pretty much) Mclusky playing, who I’d seen here and across the road at the Garage during a period of artrocker excess in 2002-ish just added to the feeling that I should throw myself into it. So I did. We all did. I owe a thank you to both the venue and the band.

N.B - You might have spotted that there are in fact 11. But c'mon. From 197 shows, that's not bad, right?!?

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